Global Warming Destroys Aquatic Resources

Dieuwertje Kast

In spite of an abundance of evidence to the contrary, our government refuses to admit that global warming is actually happening and that it affects us right now – not as a remote possibility in the distant future.

As a scuba diver, I see first-hand how global warming is causing not only vast climate change but it is also changing the ocean. As the temperature continues to rise, the condition of the ocean becomes progressively worse. A Los Angeles Times exposé, “Altered Oceans,” stated that by the year 2050 more than 50 percent of the world’s coral reefs will have disappeared.

Coral reefs are indicators of environmental stress because they are quite persnickety about the conditions in which they live. They need to be in water with a certain temperature range, pH, salinity, even turbidity (clarity), and if those conditions are not met, the corals die. Because coral reefs provide diverse habitats for an abundance of animals and plants, when the coral dies because of global warming it will devastate the oceanic ecosystem.

Imagine diving through dead and bleached coral with no fish, sharks or sea turtles, just primitive organisms like bacteria and jellyfish. All of the beauty and diversity of the coral environment would be gone forever. Would anyone travel to Hawaii, the Florida Keys, the West Indies or Australia to see where the coral used to be?

Global warming also increases the rate at which the polar ice is melting. Ice caps are a valuable source of fresh water – one of earth’s most valuable commodities. Humans need water to survive and uncontaminated, pure drinking water is becoming scarce.

Global warming changes the distribution of rainfall over the planet, meaning that places without much water at the present time will have even less (like Sudan), and in other places where there are monsoons (like India), that amount of precipitation will increase and cause flooding. That isn’t good either, because this excessive amount of water is easily contaminated and cannot be used as a source of drinking water.

Earth will survive the end of petroleum – we lived without it until the industrial revolution – but we will not survive the end of clean, available water. Future wars will be fought not for oil, but over water.

The U.S. and other governments are not proactive enough in their environmental risk assessment or precautionary view toward global warming. Willful ignorance is not a substitute for science and it is foolish not to take a long-term view in planning for future environmental hazards. Governments need to increase their awareness of what is likely to happen as the earth’s temperature continues to rise and how it will affect each country and its people.

Hurricanes are increasing in intensity; brush fires are fueled by dry chaparral. The situation is fairly obvious, but long-range planning is lacking.

Failure to spend public funds on preventive measures will result in an exponential increase of future spending on reconstruction and rebuilding after the devastation of environmental disasters. Positive feedback loops in the wake of these calamities – destruction of homes, refugees, unemployment crises – cause further damage to people, and to the economy as a whole.

Political leaders need to realize that global warming or “climate change” is occurring right now, or we may all see the end of coral reefs in our lifetimes.

Subsequent generations will have to deal with the full degrading environmental consequences that we are causing through excessive carbon emission.

We need to do something immediately. We need to limit the amount of pollutants put into our water and into our air – and not just by a little bit.

These are extreme times and we must respond with extreme measures. We need more environmental legislation at all levels – local through international – and that legislation needs to be enforced.

Here in California, Gov. Schwarzenegger passed a global warming bill on Aug. 31 called the AB32 Global Warming solutions act that was introduced by Assembly Speaker and Democrat Fabian Nunez to decrease California’s carbon emissions.

Other states should follow this example and not allow themselves to become dumping zones. Our environment is drastically changing, and we all need to do something about it. Recycle, conserve water and electricity, carpool. Even the little things help. Be active.